How To Plan Sustainable Eco-Friendly Travel [9 Easy Ways]

Traveling is an amazing way to enrich your life, meet new people, and grow as a person. However, the alarming situation with the environment means we should all pay attention to the way we live and spend. If you love to travel, you can make your trips more eco-friendly as a perfect way to start your journey toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Below are 9 easy ways you can plan fun yet sustainable eco-friendly travel

sustainable eco-friendly travel - local produce sold by boat
Not only should sustainable travel minimize the negative impact, it should provide some benefit and actually help the area.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an affiliate, I earn a small commission every time you make a qualifying purchase through one of my affiliate links (if applicable) at no additional cost to you.

CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn 9 different ways to plan sustainable eco-friendly travel, including:

Essential Definitions: Green, Eco-friendly, and Sustainable

Before we dive into eco-friendly and sustainable travel, it’s important that you know some basic terms. They are sometimes (incorrectly) used interchangeably.

What Does “Green” Mean?

Green is an often overused broad term that means something is generally “good” for the environment.

What Does “Eco-friendly” Mean?

Eco-friendly means it’s something that does not harm the planet, environment, or living things.

What Does “Sustainable” Mean?

Sustainable looks toward the future, and means something (an item or action) generates environmental, social, and economic benefit without and denying future generations. This means it doesn’t cause pollution or deplete our limited resources. It may include eco-friendly activities and green products.

What Does Eco-friendly Travel Mean?

Eco-friendly travel means traveling responsibly, and making choices that are not ecologically harmful when planning your trip.

What Does Sustainable Travel Mean?

Sustainable travel, sometimes also called “sustainable tourism,” means finding ways to travel that can be maintained over time without harming the environment, culture, or the future of travel and travelers. Not only should it minimize the negative impact, it should provide some benefit and actually help the area. It should, for instance:

  • Protect the environment
  • Address climate change
  • Expand economic development
  • Minimize plastic consumption

Now that you have a better understanding of these terms, you can begin to be a more conscientious traveler and plan an eco-friendly sustainable trip.

Here’s how.

1. Find Green Ways of Transportation

bicycle - a better option for sustainable eco-friendly travel
Using public transport or cycling will add a huge element of sustainability to your trip.

Flying is extremely useful, but it’s not the ideal way of traveling for eco-oriented people. Now, that doesn’t mean you should stop flying altogether, but if there are other ways of traveling, you might want to try them out.

Trains and buses are excellent suggestions, but if you’re traveling long distances, then combining flying with these transport means is a great way to make your trip more sustainable.

Also, once you arrive at your destination, using public transport or cycling will add a huge element of sustainability to your trip.

2. Research Your Destination 

This is crucial when traveling to a new place. So before you pack your bags, make sure to research the destination, especially if you’re traveling to a protected area with many endangered species or habitats.

That will give you insight as to how to behave and what to expect once you arrive there. Be sure not to skip this step; you want to be completely aware of your surroundings and natural environment.

3. Pack Lightly 

Sometimes, it’s easy to pack a big suitcase hoping it will be enough for the whole trip. But, a heavy suitcase isn’t the most eco-friendly idea. If possible, plan your outfits so you don’t overpack.

Related post: To read a review of the carry-on suitcase we recommend, click here.

If you need a lot of toiletries, then it’s best to pack refillable, travel-sized bottles, as they take up less space. Additionally, you can also opt for solid shampoos and bars of soap as they’re easier to pack and better for the environment. Pack eco-friendly travel products whenever possible.

4. Keep Yourself Healthy and Fit 

couple walking - a sustainable eco-friendly travel experience
Yoga, running, and other forms of exercise will help you staying fit during the trip, as long as your environmentally conscious about your surroundings.

Your sustainable trip won’t work unless you do, that’s for sure.

Therefore, it’s essential to stay healthy and indulge yourself in activities that bring you joy and peace. Things like yoga, running, and other forms of exercise are great ways of staying fit during the trip, as long as you’re environmentally conscious about your surroundings.

While you’re at it, remember to look after your skin. Be sure to keep it healthy and protected, mainly if you’re traveling to a place with a very hot climate.

You’ll want to consider using sunscreen, especially during long walks. But before you do, make sure to learn all facts about SPF protection. Once you determine the best ways to protect your skin, you’ll be able to hit the beach without worrying about getting a sunburn!

5. Use Technology to Your Advantage 

Living in the modern age is impossible without our fave tech pieces. Now, if you want to have a sustainable trip, it’s important to take care of your gadgets.

For example, if you’re an avid reader, then you know how books can impact your packing process. Opting for an e-reader is a handy way to store all your favorite books and travel lightly.

Plus, many e-reading devices have e-ink displays that allow you to read in dark, which is of great help during long nighttime flights and rides. 

If you need further convincing, have a look to this white paper the Cleantech Group, which describes (among other things) the reduction in CO2 emissions prevented due to e-book sales.

6. Choose Eco-friendly Accommodations 

The type of accommodation you choose matters a lot if you want to travel more sustainably. Therefore, when booking a hotel or any other type of accommodation, make sure that they’re led by eco-friendly business principles.

Hotels have a huge carbon footprint, so if that’s your concern, then it’s better to stay in private accommodation or a hostel.

If you’re still determined to stay in a hotel, then make sure that it’s eco-friendly to some degree.

To name just a few of the things you should seek out in accommodations on environmental conscious trips:

  • On-site recycling
  • Waste management
  • Availability of eco-friendly activities

7. Be Mindful of Your Eating Choices

Trying new food is the best way to immerse yourself in your trip. There are so many dishes and meals out there that deserve your attention, so if you’re traveling somewhere, make sure to visit the right restaurants that can offer you an authentic local experience.

Plus, eating at local restaurants can boost the local economy, which is the ultimate sustainable goal.

And even though international fast food chains might seem like a more convenient option, keep in mind that they’re actually harmful for the environment, so it’s definitely better to go elsewhere. 

8. Follow Local Rules and Guidelines 

This is one of the most important tips on this list. When you travel to a different place, you should do your best to follow local rules and guidelines regarding the environment.

That includes trash disposal, interacting with local wildlife and in certain situations, your dress code.

So, make sure to learn as much as you can about such rules, so you’ll be able to adjust your behavior once you get there.

9. Be Respectful at All Times 

woman posting in traditional thailand garb
if you want to participate in local culture, be sure to do so mindfully and respectfully.

This might seem similar to the point above, but being respectful toward the country you’re visiting should be your top priority.

For example, if a country is more conservative, then you should act your best, and try not to offend the locals.

Remember, you’re a tourist, and it’s not your place to “educate” the local people regarding certain issues.

Instead, take your time to listen to them, and if you want to participate in local culture, be sure to do so mindfully and respectfully. 

Final Thoughts on Sustainable Eco-friendly Travel 

These easy tips will help guide you as you make friends world-wide and enjoy your trip to the fullest. And when you plan an eco-friendly, sustainable trip, you’ll travel with a clear conscience, knowing you’re part of a more sustainable lifestyle that gives back to our environment.

Which of these ideas will you put into practice first? Are there other green, eco-friendly, or sustainable travel tips you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comments below!

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This article is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.

Credit: Definitions – Source, Photos: Bicycle – Free Photos; Walk – Mabel Amber; Market Boat – Dean Moriarty; Dancer – Sasin Tipchai (Pixabay)  

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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